WPP Commits $30 Million to Inclusion Programs and Anti-Racism Charities

Money will be spent over a span of 3 years

headshot of a white man in a suit bent forward
WPP CEO Mark Read tweeted steps the holding company is taking to "fight racial injustice and embrace change." WPP
Headshot of Minda Smiley

WPP plans to spend $30 million over the next three years on what it’s calling “inclusion programs” and anti-racism charities. 

The commitment comes weeks after CEO Mark Read addressed the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other “racially motivated incidents” in a LinkedIn post. In the post, he said WPP needs to take “more fundamental and concrete action” to fight racism and better support Black employees. 

Today, the holding company pledged to spend $10 million a year over the next three years on both internal programs and external initiatives to spur change. 

“We will make donations, offer our services pro bono and work with our media partners to support charities and other organizations committed to fighting racism, developing minority talent and addressing issues that affect Black and ethnic minority communities,” the company said in a statement on its website that outlines “commitments and actions” it’s taking.

WPP also said it will match employee donations to charities selected in consultation with its Roots network, an internal program that was created to change the way in which the industry talks, discusses and approaches ethnicity, race, culture and religion. It will donate up to $1 million total, and individual employees can donate up to $1,000.

Additionally, the holding company has responded to the open letter to agency leadership signed by more than 600 Black agency professionals last week. WPP said it plans to implement the 12 actions outlined in the letter across its agencies on an “accelerated timescale.”

“This will include setting targets, tracking the progression of underrepresented groups and publishing our racial diversity data,” it said in the statement. “This work will be underpinned by a comprehensive review of our policies, processes and practices so that they elevate Black talent and never stifle it.”

WPP did not elaborate on what the aforementioned inclusion programs will entail, but said it will “engage with clients, partners, peers, industry bodies, event organizers and suppliers to ensure that Black and minority ethnic talent is fairly represented not only in the work but in our industry and wider networks.” 

Moving forward, the company said it will only participate in events or panels where people of color are represented and will put forward people of color to speak at events to “proactively raise their visibility.”

It also plans to review its supplier diversity to give greater support to minority-owned businesses. 

WPP said that the leaders of its global agency networks have agreed to these commitments and will be held accountable for delivering them within their businesses. The company said its “inclusion council,” which was formed in response to Floyd’s death and the protests that have swept the country, will work with Read and WPP’s executive committee to ensure these actions are taken.

In addition to the formal announcement, Read tweeted the steps WPP is taking to “fight racial injustice and embrace change” today. In the thread, he thanked Kai Wright, global consulting partner at Ogilvy, for being “instrumental in our formal commitment not to participate in events” where people of color are not represented.

@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.